8:15pm, December 20, 1960, Amsterdam. A packed room waits for the 40-year-old artist Constant Nieuwenhuys. A slide projector and a large tape recorder sit behind the audience. Constant enters, stands by the machines, and delivers a half-hour statement on 'unitary urbanism'. The tone is militant.
Modern architects are negligent. They have systematically ignored the massive transformation of everyday life. Their endless garden-city schemes desperately provide token fragments of 'pseudo-nature' to pacify ruthlessly exploited citizens. The modern city, and civilization itself, is a thinly disguised mechanism for extracting productivity from all people. A huge machine that destroys the very life it is meant to foster. Such exploitive machinery will continue to grow until a single vast urban structure occupies the whole surface of the earth. Nature has long been replaced. Technology is the new nature.
The increasingly traumatized and desensitized citizens must take over the shaping of their own spaces to recover the pleasure of living and the very spirit of freedom that defines nature.
Constant presents his vision. New Babylon. The lights go out, the room is filled with unintelligible ambient music as slides of densely layered architectural plans of impossible scale are projected upon the wall. Intricately detailed and colored models of plexiglass and metal sheets and screens depict a universe of endless variation. An endless network of enormous translucent enclosures, hundreds of feet in height and 5 to 10 hectares in area are to be suspended above the surface of the earth. The whole of the ground plane is to be left to bio-evolution, beneath which fully automated factories and high-speed transport fulfill all of mans functional requirements. No repeatable process is un-automatable, so there will be no need for people to be the slaves of production any longer. The whole of our lives may be spent in the art of creation. Our lives may be our instruments and experience may be our medium. Within the endless system of enclosures we may all modify freely form, texture, lighting, acoustics, color, temperature, humidity, anything we desire to construct veritable labyrinths of the most heterogeneous of spaces in which desires may continuously interact. "New Babylonians play a game of their own designing, against a backdrop they have designed themselves."
A tribute: "Air-rights Project", Boston, Massachusettes: